What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Menorise; Saturday Sayings

 With all things in life, identify the steps.  
Then take them.

Menoicical;;; Baby It's Cold Outside!

For my first few years back in the Bonny Land, the winters were no worse than I had experienced from the previous three decades in the Great Down Under Parts. The average winter temp in Sydney was around 5'C and it rarely hit that here until the year of the Beast from the East a couple of years back. Indeed, the summers were often just as cold, and that is where I noticed a climate difference. 

Produced in PixlR from a stock photo and YAM's text
Mostly, though, I haven't been bothered much by the cold. This year, I am really noticing it. Two possible reasons - but maybe a bit of both. One is that my time with father introduced me to constant, all-day central heating, even during the summer months. Acclimatisation was sure to occur. Then there are the sub-zero night temps that have landed here by the Hutch (and most of the isles). Many nights here of late have been around the -6'C mark (with a 'feels like' even lower). During the days it has been as much as 8'C according to the thermometers - but again the 'feels like' has been on zero or lower. 

So the YAMster has been cocooning. Hunkering down beneath the doona. With the low temps has been very low light, so no loss. I moved Voovoo through to the bedroom too and the pair of us have been making merry in snuggle comfort. I have emerged for a run on the pedals, a bit of shifting stuff around and for food. Beyond that not much else! 

That's okay. Winter was always intended as the season of recuperation. That's my tale and I am sticking to it.

Menortikulayshun; Image Manipulation

 You all know that photography is a key interest for the YAMster. As is being all 'arty'. Lacking something of the space and surface to do too much in the physical art side of things, I have found great pleasure (and artistic release) through the electronic media.

I have a few 'onboard' tools that I like to dabble in, whether starting from scratch with a mandala or other art piece or working on my photos. For the My Take blog, I tend to manipulate images to an absolute minimum - as pure to the photographic output as possible. I always declare there when anything has been more than exposure tweaked or resized. (And I resize all images I upload as well as watermark them (with the odd escapee), to minimise misuse should anyone consider them worthy enough to steal. My stuff is not commercial, but there's common courtesy y'ken!) 

Microsoft Paint is handy for reframing and sizing screenshots that I use to illustrate posts. I occasionally create in there, but mostly, it is useful as an adjunct for colouring and occasionally adding text. As so many other tools offer a greater variety of text and 'artification', it is rarely used now.
I bought Serif DrawPlus a few years ago now... and it has mutated into a multi-dimensional/purpose suite of programs now.

This is not so much for my photos - though it is possible to work on them through this. I was using it more for designs for my RedBubble offerings. (Which has dropped away with the busy-ness of the past two years...) I do need to get back to more of that at some point. This is professional software though, and although quite advanced in my skills, there are lots of widget-bits in it I have yet to explore, never mind exploit!

The advantage of buying discrete software items is that it is a one-off payment and one has the tool for as long as it is wanted or needed. However, the rise of mobile technology has driven an equal proliferation of subscription services (even if one downloads the software rather than working online). Many of these services offer free versions (usually with advertising somewhere on the screen). Then there are those which rely on donations only. One such is Irfanview. I REALLY like this tool, and it is my 'go-to' for tidying up, resizing and watermarking my images. Irfan Skiljian is from Bosnia and works based on donations for this excellent product. I happily send him a 'Christmas' $$!!! Hardly a day goes by without my using it.

The other photo-manip s/w I have on Voovoo is Fotor...which is now offered online instead.

I still use this from time to time, but others gain greater favour now. I do like some of the effects, and may try out the online version.

Another of my personal faves and 'go-to' tools is PhoXo. Virtually all my blog banners have been manipulated in that wee downloadable free software. (Yup, even the current one - so it's pretty effective!)
Last week, I followed a lead down a rabbit warren of all sorts of online offerings to prepare images. It can be quite mesmerising! Barb, over at Cats-astropic Events, told of using Fotoram.io and of course I had to go looking! I have to say that it is a bit derivative of Fotor, Lunapic and other similar things. It is a bit slicker, and I didn't mind it - I did produce the following two images using it - from one original of my own, these two effects...

Quite pretty, I think you will agree. For ease of use, quickness of result and the ability to make even rather ropy images look presentable, this is quite useful.

No watermark facility and fewer text options though (see right), so I took the one on the left back to Irfanview to mark it.

I have chosen to experiment with the next one for a little while - not sure how long - and it is PicsArt. This is not a particularly intuitive tool, and there were many 'undos' and binnings until I got anything working the way I wanted. The advantage of this one, for me at least, is that one can use preformatting for the Instything, so am going to be keeping with it to see how I go. It may be that my own pre-existing crop and refine even with just Irfanview and adjusting with PhoXo, will be all I need.

These two images are again from Fotoram... you'll see two from PicsArt in tomorrow's post!

Which leaves me with one more tool I would like to tell you about here today.

PixlR. It has two versions, both of which can be utilised from free online and both of which can be taken out under one subscription for upgraded services. Let me tell you that after only a couple of days of having fun with it, I have subscribed!!! Yes, it was good enough to fork out $38/yr (discounted initial rate). Having already produced many images in it (see Monday's post for three of them!) I am definitely going to get my money's worth. You'll be seeing plenty from this one - and it may even become my banner maker... The two versions are "X" and "E". The first is for speedier, click and pick alterations (which is all I have done up till now) and offers an extensive range of options. The second is for much finer detail and full photoshopping style of manipulation. I will experiment with that at some point, but am simply enjoying playing in the first sandbox! I leave you with a sign of the times, as produced in PixlR...